Surviving a Bad Book – Catch-22


Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

1 Star







This book is the classic example of where humor is NOT universal. As I was reading this I could almost SEE Heller trying to squeeze in the humor but for me, it came across as the vampire bite of satire rather than the bonhomie satire.  It has been almost 9 years since I read this and I’ve never been tempted to re-read it to see if my opinion has changed or to search out any other works by Heller. In fact, this book makes me feel like this:

Yep, this book made me wish Heller was dead. Oh wait…


I know nothing about Heller’s real life experience in the war. I only know this was written 8+ years after the war had ended and wasn’t published until 1961.  I just know that I found the mocking, the bitterness and the complete degradation through humor of the men who served in WWII to to be completely unpalatable. I couldn’t find the situations humorous. It is kind of like me making jokes about dead squirrels, or running them over or something. I find that uproariously hilarious but Mrs B will burst into tears, so I have learned to not tell those kind of jokes around her.

Make Your Own Squirrel Joke.  Kind of like Choose Your Own Adventure, but different.

Another reason I was disappointed was that I was expecting the humor to be right down my alley.  Making fun of a situation and the people involved because of stupidity. Yessir, sign me up! And like I said, it just didn’t work for me.

I guess this was more of a bittersweet Survival Story than anything. I am glad I read this so I have it in my reading repertoire, but really, I almost wish I could un-read this so as to not have this huge black hole of disappointment where this book resides in my mind.



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47 thoughts on “Surviving a Bad Book – Catch-22

  1. Fair enough about this one- I did like it, though I didn’t love it and really agree that humour is not universal. hahahaha- fortunately it didn’t make me wish I, or anyone else, was dead (I’d say that might change my mind on it, but I sometimes like bleak things, so I can’t make any promises 😉 ) But I have a very dark sense of humour to be fair (for instance, that dead squirrel made me laugh hysterically, so clearly I’m a sensitive soul 😉 )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There was a movie of it? Aye yi yi….

      And I’m glad you listened to your book vibes. Is that kind of like the Force? Because if you have a bookish Yoda giving you inside tips, I want in on the action! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t read it, but as far as i remember this was one of my father’s favourites. Kind of explains it. I could never get behind his humour either.
    I took this book off my TBR a few months ago. I spent years trying to convince myself to read it, but had to admit to myself that it’s most likely not gonna happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you definitely made the right choice in removing it. Maybe some day in the future you’ll feel like reading it, but hey, if you never do, there are so many other books out there 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This was long on my TBR pile but when I got to it I managed about a quarter of the way through. I just didn’t get the humour, I was so disappointed. Great post. Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. At some point you might “want” to if you’re trying to increase your cultural awareness of what has come before. Other than that though, I don’t see any need to read this either 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I donno… I guess it is a classic in America. Over here it isn’t required reading or anything, and there are plenty of sources to learn more bout WW2 (my work is next/in the middle of what was a massive battle scene, we still have the bulletholes in the entrance gates, as well as a military cemetery next door). There are musicals and theatre plays, movies, and Lots of books. The capitulation happened in my city (in our street actually), which is still celebrated every year with a big festival and a parade of soldiers who fought then. And book wise, there are so many other classics I do want to read. So many books, so little time 🙆🏼

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Wow, that’s harsh. I’ve read “Catch-22” in high school (voluntarily, it wasn’t an assigned reading) and did not like it too much. The concept of catch-22 is very useful though, and as a satire it’s not really about the WWII, but about the 50-ties, just like MASH is not really about Korea… so I don’t see at as an attack on The Greatest Generation 😉 But was it actually funny? I remember book felt a bit monotonous and was too long for my liking. So, it’s a *** on my Goodreads, and not a candidate for re-reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Call me The Harshmeister!

      And it is books like this that make me not like satire in general. Just say what you mean instead of hiding your commie pinko ideas behind something else.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoyed this book very much as an example of laughing through gritted teeth even in the face of the world’s indifference or absurdity. I think most soldiers have a very irreverent approach to death and Heller is no exception :). That said, I can certainly relate to those that don’t share it 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is one of those books that is considered a classic that I want nothing to do with. Some others are Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer, The Stranger, and I could go on.

    After my experience with Catcher in the Rye (which I thought wouldn’t be bad to read and I was really wrong about that), I’m determined to go with my gut. So your review has only strengthened my determination not to touch this book (unless in the unlikely event someone is willing to pay me to read and review it then capitalism wins out…for the right price).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can understand some of the ones you don’t want to read, but why Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer? don’t like Mark Twain?

      I’ve seen enough reviews to get a gist of Catcher in the Rye and I won’t be reading it, that is for sure 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It might have been some of the bad movies based on them that I saw on the Disney channel or Nick or something growing up.

        But I do want to read Twain, so I grabbed Joan of Arc at my local used book store. I was surprised he actually wrote a book (historical fiction) about her, but thought it might be the best fit for me personally to read something of his.

        Yeah, you’ll be cheering for everyone beating up Holden throughout the book because of how much you’ll get sick of him (very quickly I might add).

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I confess I’ve never read this book – it was my sister’s book of choice and you. Did. Not. borrow her books as a child! But it’s always good to acknowledge that there are books out there that your read, acknowledge were trying to Do A Thing and for you they just didn’t manage it. I’ve definitely had books I read, hated, but was still glad I’d tried, so it’s nice to see another blogger exploring a similar line…

    Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s definitely a lot to be learned from them, even if all you learn is why we no longer write in certain ways anymore! I often beta-read for other fantasy writers and I tend to end up making them read Victor Hugo’s books to understand *exactly* what it feels like to go on long tangents about the history and backstory of random places and people we only meet for half a chapter!

        Liked by 2 people

          1. Huh. The ways of the interweb are strange…

            It’s always my go-to for fantasy writers, because it’s so easy, after having spent hours and hours building a world, to want to tell your readers about every single detail, but oh man, we cut that out for a reason and if you can’t get through Victor Hugo, then you can’t expect your readers to put up with your long passages of backstory either!

            Liked by 2 people

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